Community, business and political leaders at Noon on May 6th gathered for the groundbreaking celebration for the new playground at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S.
The playground will be the first in the state of Minnesota to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, and African American History.
A unique collaboration with four local African-American artists, Shalette Cauley-Wandrick, graphic artist, Esther Osayande, conceptual artist, and master artists Tacoumba Aiken and Seitu Jones, the neighborhood and its stakeholders community leaders say they are creating a park that will inspire children, their parents, fellow neighbors and friends.
The new playground will include:
• interpretive panels with historical information and QR code links to Benjamin McHie’s African American Registry website
• a climbing structure replicating the Edmund Pettus Bridge
• a climbable mountaintop
• an educational staircase illustrating authors of African Heritage
• a flag from the Red Hand Division WWI African-American regiment
• themed children’s play to highlight African-American inventors, including our own Minnesotan, Frederick McKinley Jones.
Co-chairs Charles Mays and Sandra Richardson, speaking on behalf of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park Legacy Council, said the creation of the innovative civil rights-themed children’s playground is foundational in MLK Memorial Park’s emergence as a major destination not only for local communities, but for national and international visitors to Minnesota. “We envision a day when tourists will list Mall of America and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park as their top destinations when they visit Minnesota,” said Mays.
Richardson said the new playground is stage two of a multi-stage vision intended to establish the park as a world class destination and resource for the community.
The renovation comes as a cost of about $500,000, which is more than normally budgeted for playground renovations. The passionate leadership from the MLK Legacy Council, and the generous investment support of local business induced reallocation of Park Board resources to make the project happen, said Jane Miller, Superintendent, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The new playground will formally open in a ceremony on Saturday Aug 23.